One of the most common questions we receive is “How do I actually get approved for benefits?” The fact of the matter is that there’s no sure-fire way to get approved, and less than 50% of applicants receive benefits even after they have an ALJ hearing. So we decided to speak with a woman who WAS successful with her claim to see what she did to win her benefits.
Q: How long did it take for you to be approved?
A: I just got approved in just a little over 4 months and on my own. I know that is rare for SSDI to go that short of a time after applying. In fact even before getting either letter in the mail, the back pay for 13 months was deposited. Very surprising and welcome!!
Q: That’s fantastic news! How did you start your claim?
A: I perused a few sites on what ss looks for in approvals. It seemed to emphasize that you need to show how your multiple diagnoses impair your daily functional capacity. Since my doctor is the one who suggested I apply I emphasized that her documentation show how I am limited in my daily function.
Q: That’s definitely true. You really should have a wealth of medical evidence available before applying. Did you just submit your claim and wait to be approved?
A: No, I also communicated with the adjudicator weekly. I found out who he was after he mailed me 2 more applications to fill out. Had I not been in contact with him my process would have been very long because on one of the phone calls he told me I hadn't been honest. When I inquired it turned out he scanned the doctor's paperwork and saw "mentally healthy" to mean mentally unhealthy. Good thing my physician sent me a copy of what she filled out. Once I pointed that out to him he apologized and things continued to go smoothly. If I hadn't been in contact with him he would have been looking for records that didn't exist.
Q: What a good catch. It seems like silly paperwork seems to get a lot of people disqualified. In fact, I once read that up to 30% of applicants who were denied were only denied due to a technicality on their application! Were proceedings smooth after you kept in communication with your local SSA office?
A: Almost! They did send me to the exam with their doctor as well as to two pulmonary functionary tests. Once all that was completed, I was approved within 2 weeks. My case also went not only to medical review but to the chief medical reviewer as well. I was told that not many cases get to go there. Both of them made recommendations and the tests were ordered because I did not have any recent studies.
Q: I’ve heard that a lot of people have difficulty with the SSA’s medical reviewers or Disability Determination Services (DDS). It’s nice to hear one case go so smoothly. Do you have any other recommendations for anyone applying for benefits?
A: Be honest and truthful but tell them how you are limited in your functional capacity. Especially with your medical diagnosis.
So there you have it! If you’re applying for benefits, here are some key takeaways from a woman who had success with her claim:
- Gather as much medical evidence as possible from your doctor
- Keep in communication with the SSA
- Take all the exams the SSA recommends
- Be completely honest when filling out the application.
If you were still denied benefits, or if you’re nervous about the application process, we can help. Consider speaking with a Social Security disability advocate or attorney about your claim today.